Friday, January 02, 2009

Delving Into Dongbei Cuisine

There are a ton of things I love about traveling, like visiting famous places, shopping in local shops, and talking to the natives. But, as you probably know, a true way to taste a place is to eat...a lot! So whenever we go on a trip, Daddy asks his students about famous foods that we should try. Luckily, for this trip, one of Daddy's students is a Harbin native...Jackpot! She named the most famous and "most delicious" for us to try.

(1) Dongfang Jiaozi Wang. ("Orient King of Dumplings," or something like that.) Although Shanghai and other places in southern China are said to have the best of the best when it comes to dumplings (a statement I used to agree with), these Harbin dumplings are incredible. No doubt, we will be back for the delicious corn and pine nut jiaozi, or the baicai (white cabbage) flavor, which, for the record, comes either boiled or fried. Not to mention the delicious soup they bring out, which is the water the dumplings were previously cooked in. This is a phenomenon all over China that deserves a blog of its own. The "Dumpling King" sure knows how to fill your stomach.

(2) Bing tang hu lu. A fall and winter treat, these sugar-covered fruits can be seen almost anywhere. They are made with different kinds of fruit, but the most famous are the Chinese apples. We had tried these in Beijing, but were not impressed, since the fruits were small and had pits. When Daddy's student suggested we try the bing tang hu lu in Harbin, and said it was much better with bigger fruits, we were skeptical but tried it anyway. Wow! That is one delicious, pitless treat!

(3) Ice lollies. Yes, we are in below freezing temperatures, but these ice lollies were said to "make you feel so wonderful inside." And they definitely were delicious. They are sold in a very narrow shop on the central avenue pedestrian area. They taste sort of like a Chinese candy you can get in Chinese stores back home. The best part...They don't melt!

(4) Hong chang. Thanks to the Russian influence in Harbin, you sometimes feel and in this case east like you are in Europe. Smoked sausage, anyone?

(5) Dalieba. Now imagine walking into a small bakery and asking for this Russian bread you have heard about. The man walks over to a pile of big brown bags and says to you, ershi kuai si jin. "Twenty yuan for two kilograms." That's about three dollars for four pounds of bread. Now this bread is huge! It is in a big circular loaf and tastes similar to rye or sourdough. It's yummy, but I think you probably could kill someone with it!

More to come later on Harbin specialties...

~Julie

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